‘‘You know, Alastair Clarkson is a great coach and I understand he’s under contract. That makes it a lot tougher.
‘‘So of course if there was any opening with a Clarkson or a Beveridge, or some of these other guys, in the same way that Longmire … was asked the question by North Melbourne, you’d have to consider it.’’
But he said the club had been focused only on Richardson and his position and had not asked these questions yet.
Bassat, who will chair the panel that selects Richardson’s successor, said the panel would consist of chief executive Matt Finnis, football boss Simon Lethlean, football director on the board Dean Anderson and ‘‘almost certainly two or three more’’ from outside the club.
Bassat said, ideally, the club would have a new coach in place by the end of the season, but they would not compromise the selection process for that purpose.
‘‘I’m not ruling anything out at this stage. I think we’re going to be broad in our search. Both in terms of experienced versus inexperienced coaches … how broad that list is and whether that precludes any anyone currently under contract I’m not going to rule in or out at this stage.’’
Bassat said it was his job to ensure that the club paid both the full soft cap and the salary cap for players. ‘‘That’s the only way we can be competitive in this competition,’’ he said.
‘‘So absolutely we will be able to afford a coach what they deserve, whether that be a name coach or somebody else.’’
Bassat confirmed that Ratten would be a candidate if he wished to pursue the job, as would Scott, while he was adamant that there was no deal in place with Scott and directly addressed the issue of Scott’s close relationship with Lethlean.
‘‘He’s [Ratten has] got to be a candidate. You know, there’s a question around whether Brett wants to do it, but we would be crazy not to consider Brett given his track record and his personal characteristics. If he throws his hat in the ring, he’ll certainly be a
candidate. There’s a limited number of experienced coaches on the market already. So we would be crazy not to consider all of them and Brad’s got a good reputation.’’
Seeking to scotch suggestions of a deal with Scott, he added: ‘‘I need to put to bed the rumours that we’ve already done a deal with Brad Scott. And there’s certainly no decision been made but it would be wrong not to consider someone of Brad’s calibre also.
‘‘There’s been some relatively strong rumours that have been quite persistent. It did a disservice to Richo, it did it a disservice to our club that people were putting two and two together and getting six.
‘‘That Brad’s departure and the nature of it meant that he had a deal lined up because of Simon’s friendship, there must be something if the two come together.
‘‘We just wanted to reassure people that was absolutely not correct.
‘‘Simon has had a couple of relationships [with St Kilda people] before. Now Simon has been upfront right start that he had a friendship with Brad Scott and made clear that was on the table.
‘‘So I can understand why people jump to those perceptions … I’m saying they’re not accurate in this case.
‘‘We will now move aggressively down the path of selecting a new coach. It’s such a critical decision for the club. That we need to be as thorough and thoughtful as we need to be to get the right outcome.
‘‘We need to take as long as we need to to make a decision right, to be honest. It’s all relatively new.’’
Bassat, who spoke with Richardson on Monday when the coach decided to finish prematurely following conversations with Finnis, said Richardson had ‘‘coached pretty well’’ this year given the unavailability of players, but that it was time for a change.
‘‘It’s time for the players to hear a fresh voice, it’s time for fresh hope to players you want to attract to the club, it’s time for sell fresh hope to members.’’
Bassat called Richardson ‘‘a bloody great human being’’ but said that the club had to close the gap in performance.
Jake Niall is a Walkley award-winning sports journalist and chief AFL writer for The Age.